Sunday, 16 May 2010

Got it Taped


Technology has advanced so much in recent years it can be hard for old fogies like me to keep up. IPods, MP3s, MP4s, multi-media tablets, Bluetooth, Internet, Intranet - it's easy to get lost in a world of must have gadgetry. As I hurtle towards the half-century of my life, occasionally I hark back to more simpler times when email was something someone from Yorkshire would greet the postman with and high-definition television meant turning the contrast button on a black and white set...

Clearing stuff out from the loft the other week, there was - among the plethora of dust covered junk that I just couldn't bear to throw out - a large cardboard box full of cassette tapes. Most people under the age of twenty-five years will not have a clue what I'm talking about (okay, I know that can be said for the majority of my ramblings on this site but that's another matter) There were dozens of tapes covered in enough dust to threaten airspace in the skies above Edinburgh. Some dated back to the mid 1970s when I was but a teenager. Back then there were no MP3 players, the Internet was something American scientists spoke about and the term download hadn't been invented yet.

The tapes contained music I had taped from the radio in my formative youth. The 1970s version of 'downloading music' involved setting up a small cassette tape recorder next to a transistor radio in my bedroom and recording music  - I use the term loosely for that decade - from the sometimes crackly sound of 'Wonderful Radio One' on the 247 frequency. Sunday evenings between 6.00pm and 7.00pm was when the Top 40 was played on Radio One. This was best time to record the best selling hits of the day although as Radio One joined Radio Two once the show was over - no 24 hour pop music then, younger reader - you ran the risk of recording Sing Something Simple immediately after. However, this was eminently cheaper than buying records - large black vinyl round things, young 'uns - although the downside was you had to try and cut out the inane cackle of disc-jockeys such as Tony Blackburn, Dave Lee Travis and Noel Edmonds (three decades and more later I'm still trying to avoid the smug bearded one on television)

I pored over the tapes and my mind drifted back to simpler times, growing up in Aberdeen, falling in love for the first time and leaving school to begin my first job. I realised, to my considerable anguish, that I no longer had anything to play these tapes on. It looked like their contents would be lost forever - until I saw something advertised on the Radio Times magazine's Home Shopping catalogue.

There, among the cheap garden ornaments, carpet cleaners and miniature ovens was something called a T2-MP3 hand held converter/player. It looked like an early version of a Sony Walkman, the cassette playing contraption that you could actually walk about with (hence the name - smart, eh?) that came out decades ago and was the forerunner of today's MP3 players. Not only does it play cassettes  but the converter - as its name implied - actually converts tapes into MP3 format which, in turn, allows you to play them on an IPod.

For less than £20 it was too good an offer to resist and my small but perfectly formed package - I can hear your innuendo from here - arrived the other day. I have made a start on the mammoth task of transferring my old tapes to MP3 format and expect to complete this task by the time baby Ava leaves school...

Regular readers of this blog  - Mrs Trevis of North Wales - will already know that I'm a sad old geek. Something to which my daughters will readily testify. If you see a fella wandering the streets of Edinburgh, headphones plugged in, smiling inanely, there's a fair chance it will be me listening once more to the 'happy, happy sound of Radio One' and music from decades gone by. Do what you can to help. Call the Care in the Community helpline without delay...

3 comments:

miruspeg said...

Great find Mike.
I still listen to my tapes on my tape recorder and my records on my recorder player....not very often but when I want a trip down crackerly memory lane they are there to oblige.

Adullamite said...

I would be taping progs from the wireless today if the thing would work right. My 14 year old stereo plays them at fast speed, and record in similar fashion. I suppose it could be mended but....

kenfitlike said...

Not just cassette tape music transferred to MP3 - but taped-off-the radio cassettes transferred to MP3.....

just how low-fi blissful is that?

I got a vinyl to MP3 machine from the kids for my birthday so I can wallow in hiss, crackle, scape and stick like the good old days.